WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — When Wrightsville Beach native Mason Barnes heard there would be a historic swell coming to one of the world’s best surf spots, he hopped on a plane to Portugal.
He travels to Nazaré, Portugal’s big-wave mecca every winter but says this swell is the biggest and the best one he has been a part of.
Wednesday was the start of the swell and Thursday was the peak.
“Yesterday, waves were around the 60-ft range, maybe a little bigger,” Barnes said. “Today, waves are 70-80ft, to 85ft, maybe a little bigger. Some of the biggest waves ever surfed in surfing history went down today.”
Video already released from Wednesday shows Barnes being pulled by a jetski into a massive wave. The video of his epic ride has since been shared across the surfing community.
WWAY spoke with Barnes on Thursday and said he has since ridden an even bigger wave.
“I got in about an hour ago and it makes that wave look small believe it or not,” he said.
Since the waves are just too big, he can’t paddle in them himself. To catch a wave, a jetski is pulling him with a rope with another two jetskis following nearby for safety reasons.
He also wears a personal inflation vest that has CO2 cartridges attached in case of a bad wipeout.
“Today, I actually had a really bad wipeout and it inflated on its own without me even pulling it,” he said. “It really helped me out a lot and probably saved me life honestly. It was in a bad situation and it pulled me right up.”
He says he will take two days of rest now as he “feels like he got hit by a car.”
While in the water though, he says he stays very focused.
“You’re not thinking about anything other than where you are at, what you are doing, and the fact that you may be about to get the biggest wave of your life,” Barnes said.
In the lineup with him are about 12 other guys and two women, adding there about 20 jetskis surrounding them.
He says riding some of the largest waves in the world these past few days has been an unbelievable experience.
“There is no better feeling in the world. I’ve trained my whole life for moments like this,” Barnes said. “When it all comes together, I just can’t put it into words.”
Check out a live camera of Nazaré here.